Visionary Leader: Zunaid Khan

Zunaid Khan is Executive Director for Development Planning at City of Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality. Visionary Leadership is crucial to the sustainable growth of our cities and businesses as responsible leadership affects both the present and the future.

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Episode Summary:

  • 00:00:00 In this section, Zunaid Khan, the Executive Director for Development Planning at the City of Joburg, discusses the key characteristics of a visionary leader. According to Khan, having a clear vision is essential, along with integrity, confidence, compassion, empathy, and a great sense of humor. He also highlights current challenges in leadership, including a lack of understanding of service delivery, accountability, and a focus on excellence. Khan believes that leaders need to change their mindset, prioritise, and manage expectations, and learn from business approaches to achieve success in the public sector. He also emphasises the importance of support, encouragement, and training for leadership development.
  • 00:05:00 In this section, he discusses his role as an executive director in public administration and the focus of a leader during turbulent times. Khan emphasises the importance of leading the team, enhancing skills and expertise, changing the narrative, and understanding politics while managing expectations. He uses the analogy of turning a massive vehicle to describe the process of implementing changes in the public sector. Khan also mentions the importance of understanding the dynamics of politics and engaging customers to face the department.
  • 00:10:00 In this section, he discusses the lessons he learned during his early career in public service, starting with his experience working for the city of Johannesburg. He emphasises the importance of having a thick skin and being held to a higher level of accountability when working with public funds. Khan also shares how he was given opportunities to grow and learn from experienced colleagues, and the eye-opening experience of seeing the inner workings of government at a national level. He highlights the pressures and responsibilities that come with high-level positions, as well as the importance of expertise and knowledge sharing in public service. Khan concludes by reflecting on the importance of being present and engaged during significant political events.
  • 00:15:00 In this section, Zunaid Khan discusses the complexities of managing daily tasks as an Executive Director at the City. Khan prioritises his tasks based on the city's vision, addressing issues for his teams, customer service, and strategic elements. He balances these responsibilities with his role as a father and unexpected challenges, such as flooding issues. Khan defines his success as leaving the department and the city in a better place, with improved systems, processes, and staff empowerment.
  • 00:20:00 In this section, Zunaid Khan discusses his vision for the future of a city he oversees. He emphasises that the city ultimately belongs to the public and that economic development is crucial for addressing issues such as inequality and unemployment. Khan also mentions the importance of improving customer satisfaction and changing the narrative around public sector performance. He expresses a desire to see small achievements leading to larger changes and a more business-friendly environment.

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